Twitter Chat on People with Disabilities in #GlobalCareers

Blue background with white #GlobalCareers Twitter Chat, with Twitter logo in the letter O
MIUSA and NCDE hosted a virtual career fair connecting job-seekers with disabilities to mentors and opportunities in international fields. Find highlights from the chat here!
October 21, 2019

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, MIUSA/NCDE invited Twitter followers to join an online chat on Monday October 21, 2019 to get advice from people with disabilities working in global fields and to learn about current open positions and opportunities that can lead to careers in international development and/or international exchange. 

Throughout the hour, MIUSA posted a series of questions directed to attendees of the chat using the hashtag #GlobalCareers. The chat was divided into three parts, for three different audiences:

  • In Part A, we asked people with disabilities about aspects of their "dream job" and how they are working toward their global career goals.
  • In Part B, we asked professionals with disabilities working in global careers how they entered the field, what they do, how often they travel for work, and the impact of having a disability in this field.
  • In Part C, we asked international development and international exchange organizations to share specific jobs, fellowships, internships and more. We also asked them how they are promoting equity, inclusion and diversity.

More than 21 individuals and organizations participated in the chat, including staff from Peace Corps, Chemonics, IIE, USAID, World Bank and more! Find select responses to each of the questions on this page or in the links below to find out how having a disability can be an asset when working in global careers plus ideas for building the skills needed to break into the field. Be sure to browse the many internationally-focused fellowships, job openings, internships, and volunteer positions posted by organizations searching for talented applicants with disabilities!

A. Questions for U.S. people with disabilities exploring global careers

A1. What attracts you to global careers?

  • @RachelChaikof It's important to me to have a career that gives me the opportunity to make a difference and learn more about the world. Working in international development fulfills my career goals. #GlobalCareers
  • @harford_justin I became interested in #GlobalCareers and really all things international when I traveled in China with my choir in high school. I also had a knack for languages and wanted to build that. And I also had a good mentor, Cathy @kudlick
  • @DesaiLisi The attractions are: 1) international exposure and platform, 2) opportunity for global development, 3) travelling around the world and knowing people from different culture, 4) exploring their best practices, 5) learning foreign languages, culture, and food.

A2. What kinds of opportunities are you looking for (e.g. entry level internship, travel position, etc.)?

  • @DesaiLisi I am interested in an entry level job. I will be graduating in May 2020 in Master of Public Administration at Kennesaw State University, Georgia. I have another Master's from University of Dhaka and 3 years of experience working with people with disabilities in Bangladesh.

A3. What are some aspects of your dream job?

  • @scott_irene Aspects of my dream job include: 1) overall wellness-focused (encourage work-life balance), 2) opportunities to make valuable contributions and growth and 3) supportive and collaborative work environment.
  • @RachelChaikof My dream job includes tackling challenging issues and creating solutions to improve lives of people around the world. It also includes traveling which gives me the opportunity to meet new people and learn more about the cultures.
  • @DSMCripster I am always interested to find jobs that would support and encourage development of foreign language skills.
  • @DesaiLisi My dream job would have international exposure, development and travel, great mission towards solving social issues (e.g. problems related to disability), convenient working environment suitable to my disability and mutual respect, scope for self growth
  • @NationalDeafCtr One where an individual's disability is perceived as not a burden but as a gain for everyone.

A4. Do you have any international experience (e.g. study abroad, hosting international students, foreign languages, etc.)?

  • @DSMCripster I studied abroad & lived abroad in multiple locations for short & long term stays. I work with our local Sister State organization to host students and visitors in my area. I am really passionate about languages (in addition to disability rights) so am always taking classes.
  • @harford_justin I spent a summer in Mexico studying Spanish, and an academic year in Chile earning credits towards my history BA, while researching for my thesis. I also studied Portuguese for Spanish speakers.
  • @RachelChaikof My first trip outside of North America when I was 17 years old to take part in a high school exchange program in France inspired me to have an international career. Studying abroad, learning French, going to grad school abroad, and serving in the Peace Corps helped me get to where I am today.
  • @DesaiLisi I am from Bangladesh. I have participated the 8th International WILD 2016 program arranged by Mobility International USA. Now pursuing My second Master's in Public Administration at Kennesaw State University, Georgia.

A5. How do you think having a disability might be an advantage to working in a global career?

  • @scott_irene People with disabilities bring a unique perspective. In addition to being competent due to previous work experiences, degrees, and/or other achievements, we are mindful of inclusive practices. Thanks to life experiences, we excel in perseverance, troubleshooting, and resilience.
  • @DSMCripster Traveling and working abroad requires flexibility, resilience, and the ability to adapt on the fly. These are all skills that we as people with disabilities naturally develop throughout our lives. The threshold of our “comfort zones” is just that much higher.
  • @DSMCripster I visited a institution for Deaf and disabled youth in Vietnam and the Deaf Vietnamese students connected more with me than other members of my group. They said I “understood” them because I have a physical disability. It was an immediate recognition of shared identity.
  • @RachelChaikof Because we have experiences in overcoming challenging and complex issues, we are able to think creatively and innovate ideas to reach the goals. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing like myself, we have experiences in overcoming communication barriers. Thus, when we are traveling to countries where they don't speak the same language, we are able to come up with solutions to communicate differently.
  • @RachelChaikof Also, when PWDs are involved in working in international development, we are able to come up with solutions that persons without disabilities may not come up with for tackling disability related issues in developing countries because we experience the challenges daily.
  • @NationalDeafCtr The ability to see the world in a very different lens, the ability to understand marginalized populations better, as well as bringing the entire organization's attention to accessibility AND communication differences.
  • @SaraSocialServe So many countries are now more engaged and looking for disability-specific consultants that can inform urban planners to build out inclusive environments. Here, a person with a disability focused on #globalcareers are an advantage!

B. Questions for people with disabilities with a global career success story to share

B1. Tell us a bit about your global career, including your most recent position in a global field.

  • @VivianFridas I’m a disability inclusion specialist w. over 4 years of experience supporting international organizations. Currently, I work with the @WorldBank Young Professionals Program on increasing the number of applicants w disabilities
  • @JoshJosa I lead USAID Office of Education's Disability Portfolio, advising 50+ country offices globally on how best to address the needs of learners with disabilities in education.
  • @PeaceCorps I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya, Zambia, and @peacecorpguyana. I also worked with @VSO_Rwanda for two years. My assignments included deaf education and capacity building. I now work as a disability specialist at Peace Corps Washington. –AN
  • @RachelChaikof I work in project management for an international development consulting firm, focusing on global health in francophone and southern regions of Africa. I am also doing work in disability inclusion across all sectors in international development. Please free to ask questions about my experience.

B2. What led you into a global career? What did you do to get your foot in the door?

  • @JoelVazquez012 Hi there! I know that for me, it very much helped to gain an understanding of the international development industry via platforms like Reliefweb and DevEx; and then I actually got a temporary opportunity at Chemonics, which gave me a good exposure to the company.
  • @PeaceCorps Before Peace Corps, I was a teacher in Los Angeles. I wanted to share my experience and expertise by teaching deaf children in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I was first hired as a consultant at Peace Corps and then became a staff member. –AN
  • @harford_justin I learned about @MobilityINTL when I studied abroad in South America as a blind person. A couple volunteer opportunities later I came to work here in 2016. #BlindAbroad
  • @JoshJosa @PeaceCorps led me into a global career and that experience definitely helped get me in the door. My internship supervisor at USAID is a returned PCV as are many others scattered throughout USAID. I also did my homework and  assertive in meeting decision makers.

B3. Does your job involve any travel (domestic or international)? Tell us about a recent work trip.

  • @PeaceCorps I have traveled to Ghana, Swaziland (now eSwatini), and Senegal. For my Senegal visit, I participated in an intercultural/diversity workshop that included disability inclusion. I hope to revisit Kenya to reopen the deaf education sector there. –AN
  • @harford_justin Earlier this year I led a presentation on access to study abroad for deaf students in Boston. Last year I gave a couple lectures on access to higher education in Guadalajara Mexico. #NDEM #BlindAbroad
  • @jicpac Ray Thomas-IIE: I recently visited IIE work sites in Budapest, New Delhi, Bangkok and Jakarta.  Intent was to meet with team members and discuss diversity, equity and inclusivity, its challenges and advantages faced by them within their region both personally and professionally.
  • @scott_irene Opportunities to travel are essential and might include attending/presenting/volunteering at professional conferences, site visits to evaluate international partners, advocacy work, visiting another org. to exchange resources. My recent trip was in TX to learn about outreach.
  • @JoshJosa I travel 4-5x a year internationally for conferences and in-country mission-based work. I'm now in Morocco working with USAID and the Ministry of Education to improve the quality of education for children with disabilities.
  • @RachelChaikof I travel overseas about twice a year for work. I recently went to Lesotho to assist my team in planning activities for the next fiscal year. #globalcaeers

B4. How does having a disability impact your global career (advantages/challenges)?

  • @PeaceCorps Deaf from birth, I navigate the challenges of a hearing world by sharing my unique insight and perspectives with my work. Grateful for my Volunteer experience as it afforded me a better understanding of disability in the international context. –AN
  • @VivianFridas Having a disability has its challenges but I’ve made a profession out of creating solutions to them. Inclusion work is second nature to me. I provide international organizations with recommendations and strategic planning on best practices for inclusion
  • @harford_justin Having a #Disability has made me an efficient problem solver. I organized human reader's in Chile, negotiated with national archives and the study abroad office to get access to photocopiers and private reading rooms, learn Spanish to travel independently. It is also critical for understanding global poverty in #GlobalCareers bc disability and poverty are so linked. Nondisabled people just think about it in terms of medical curing, while disabled people know that it is also about combating soft #Ableism and low expectations.
  • @JoshJosa It's interesting because when i first meet people, many will discount what I can do. They're usually pleasantly surprised and that's an advantage in itself -- easy to exceed expectations. Communication barriers = really difficult when they're difficult.
  • @RachelChaikof There are both advantages and challenges. One challenge I face is communicating with people who have thick accents on conference calls. I solve this issue by using Skype which has free subtitles and it works very well! The advantage of my disability is that I'm more aware of issues that marginalized people, including persons with disabilities, women and girls, LGBTI, and ethnic minorities, face in international development and I'm able to create ideas to ensure they're included. #globalcaeers

B5. What advice do you have to other job-seekers with disabilities who want to work in global careers?

  • @PeaceCorps Resiliency and patience are key. I encourage Americans with disabilities to apply to the Peace Corps. As Volunteers, you can be positive role models and not only provide inspiration for others, but also learn from what they may have to share. –AN
  • @jicpac IIE:  Do your research in advance to ensure if specific accessibility considerations are required, do your homework in advance to ensure the laws of that region fits your particular needs.
  • @harford_justin People with #Disabilities interested in #GlobalCareers should learn about the organizations out there. Volunteer, in turn and get informational interviews with people in the organizations where you want to work, preferably the ones closest to your position in the staff tree.
  • @JoshJosa Be assertive and solution oriented. Come with innovative ideas and ready to work.

C. Questions for representatives of organizations that offer global career opportunities

C1. What does your organization do?

  • @GilmanProgram The Gilman Scholarship provides study abroad opportunities! Since the program’s inception in 2001, #GilmanScholars representing more than 1,335 U.S. colleges and universities have studied in 151 countries. Learn more at gilmanscholarship.org @ECAatState @MobilityINTL #GilmanScholarship #ExchangeOurWorld
  • @PayneFellowship The Payne Fellowship Program seeks to attract individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in the Foreign Service of USAID. We encourage the application of individuals from historically underrepresented groups as well as those with financial need.
  • @PeaceCorps The Peace Corps is an international service opportunity for U.S. citizens. Our Volunteers work on projects in agriculture, education, community economic development, the environment, youth, and health in 60+ countries.
  • @JoelVazquez012 Chemonics is an international development organization that carries out global, foreign aid projects around the world in developing countries and we partner with local communities to make an impact. Our corporate offices are located in Washington D.C. and in Crystal City, VA.
  • @FulbrightPrgrm The #Fulbright Program offers unparalleled international educational and cultural exchange experiences. Fulbrighters foster mutual understanding between the U.S. and partner nations, advance knowledge across communities, and improve lives around the globe.

C2. Does your organization have any regular or ongoing opportunities (e.g. annual fellowship application, periodic internship positions, etc.)? Please describe them and/or share links.

  • @GilmanProgram Studying abroad is a life-changing experience! The #GilmanScholarship application cycle for overseas programs that start May 1, 2020 - April 31, 2021 will open in mid-January 2020. Learn more gilmanscholarship.org. @ECAatState @MobilityINTL  #ExchangeOurWorld
  • @MYaaOppong The @WorldBank's Young Professionals Program seeks applicants from various backgrounds & strongly encourages persons w/ disabilities to apply. If you have work experience in international development & an advanced degree, apply in June! bit.ly/wbgyp
  • @PayneFellowship We're currently accepting applications for the 2020 Cohort! Interested candidates seeking admission into graduate school for the Fall 2020 should visit our website for more information: ow.ly/dOO050wQsEX
  • @PeaceCorps Yes! We recruit year-round, and our next big application deadline is Jan 1st. Our traditional program lasts 27 months and is great for those interested in living and working collaboratively with communities abroad. View current openings: https://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/volunteer-openings/
  • @JoelVazquez012 @Chemonics has a formal summer internship program that hosts a variety of individuals across multiple teams; and aside from the day-to-day, this program also hosts a series of professional development workshops. Applications will open around January 2020 (usually).
  • @JoshJosa @USAID fellowships: https://www.usaid.gov/work-usaid/careers/fellows-program and internships: https://www.usaid.gov/work-usaid/careers/student-internships
  • @FulbrightPrgrm #Fulbright offers many! U.S. Student Program (bit.ly/2VZhMWV), U.S. Scholar Program (bit.ly/2MwS9JQ), Foreign Student Program (bit.ly/2IhwHFd), Specialist Program (bit.ly/2ipiiKk), @FulbrightTeach (bit.ly/2BwzU0O)

C3. What are some current job openings that are not regular/ongoing? Please share a link to your job page.

C4. What are some of the most valuable skills or traits your organization looks for in new hires?

  • @PeaceCorps Our Volunteers' work focuses on building local capacity. Applicants must be passionate about our mission of promoting world peace and friendship. We look for flexible collaborators with specialized skill sets. Learn more: https://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/is-peace-corps-right-for-me/
  • @PayneFellowship The ideal candidate should have: A clear interest in a career in intl affairs; A commitment to public or community service; A strong academic background; Cultural competence; Strong social and communication skills; An ability to overcome obstacles
  • @IIEglobal The most common skills and traits that our organization seeks are individuals with experience working in higher education and strong communication skills. Specifically, cross cultural communication ability is considered a plus.
  • @FulbrightPrgrm Demonstrated language preparation, ability to be adaptable/serve as a cultural ambassador, and strong letters of recommendation. Institutional & geographic distribution is also an important factor.

C5. What are some challenges and benefits about working in a global career field (as opposed to working in other fields)?

  • @PeaceCorps Peace Corps service asks a lot - you may have to serve under conditions of hardship. But it also has a lot to give. Volunteers learn language & technical skills, build cross-cultural connections, and grow a deeper understanding of the world https://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/benefits/
  • @PayneFellowship FSOs work with a diverse range of colleagues in environments that can be unfamiliar & challenging. It offers a unique opportunity to serve and represent the American people’s compassion and respect for human dignity. For more info visit: ow.ly/ohu450wQtlT
  • @scott_irene It is tempting to think after a year or so in the field, you have experienced it all. However, a wise, former supervisor once challenged me to keep seeking a fresh perspective on things. Twelve years later, I am still discovering new ways and approaches.
  • @IIEglobal Challenges – becoming acclimated to a new environment; depending on your role, being cognizant of differences in employment structures of U.S. domestic vs international program participants. Another challenge is corresponding with international peers in vastly different time zone.
  • @IIEglobal Benefits – familiarization with program operations outside of domestic U.S. borders.  Becoming truly internationally focused on program operations. Ability to travel and immerse yourself into the culture of the region where your program operates.

C6. In what ways does your organization promote a culture of diversity and inclusion?

  • @MYaaOppong As one of the @WorldBank's ten commitments to achieve disability inclusive development, we are working to hire more staff w/ disabilities. Learn more at http://bit.ly/wbginclusion  #DisabilityInclusion #DisabilityEmployment #DisabilityTwitter #DiversityandInclusion
  • @VivianFridas People with disabilities are more likely to experience adverse socioeconomic outcomes, such as less education, poor health outcomes, lower levels of employment, and higher poverty rates. @WorldBank Is working to change this. Learn more at https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/disability
  • @PeaceCorps We encourage Americans with disabilities to apply to the Peace Corps. Honoring the voices and identities of our Volunteers as well as host country national and U.S. staff is central to our success. Read our statement on diversity and inclusion: https://www.peacecorps.gov/about/civil-rights-and-diversity/#diversity
  • @PayneFellowship The Payne Fellowship's goal is to increase the diversity of the Foreign Service so that it can reflect the strength and talent of all Americans. We provide a unique pathway to those who have been historically underrepresented in the USAID Foreign Service.
  • FulbrightPrgrm @ECAatState strives to ensure that its efforts reflect the diversity of U.S. society and societies abroad. ECA seeks & encourages the involvement of people from traditionally underrepresented audiences in all its grants, including the #Fulbright Program! @ECAatState Opportunities are open to people regardless of their race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. @ECAatState is committed to fairness, equity & inclusion.
  • @CarpeGlobal Carpe Global is committed to highlighting resources that are intersectional and that serve to engage responsibly with our global community
  • @IIEglobal IIE promotes diversity and inclusion by constant engagement and outreach to our team members.  We promote exchange of thoughts and ideas across programs.  We encourage participation in company and community events. Most importantly, we strive to make every team member feel important and an integral part of planned activities and events.
  • @NationalDeafCtr  In addition to hiring diverse ppl, staff trg on diversity, a focus on accessibility & inclusion and open conversations...our org focuses on 5 Key Impact Areas we've identified thru research, one of which is Promotiong High Expectations: https://www.nationaldeafcenter.org/sites/default/files/KeyImpactAreas.pdf